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DWI suspect crashes into two private jets at Dallas Love Field, police say

Police said the DWI suspect crashed through a gate on the east side of the airport near Lemmon Avenue and Lovers Lane.

DALLAS — A man has been arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated after police said he crashed through a side gate at Dallas Love Field and hit two private planes early Saturday.

Dallas police said they responded around 3 a.m. to a call about someone who drove a pickup truck into a gate on the east side of the airport near Lemmon Avenue and Lovers Lane.

The 21-year-old suspect drove into a private hangar space and hit the front bumper of a fuel truck and the wings of two private jets, police said. 

According to police, the man was arrested for DWI and faces other charges as well. He has not yet been identified.

In a statement, the City of Dallas said the gate had been secured. The city also added that the incident did not impact flight operations at Love Field.

Mark Duebner, director of aviation for the City of Dallas, which owns and operates the airport, called the incident “relatively rare.”

“We will be reviewing this incident, speaking with all of our tenants, making sure that their perimeter security is as good as it can be,” Duebner said.

Aviation lawyer Ladd Sanger told WFAA that even minor damage on an airplane's wings can total an aircraft. Sanger said the damage from the incident could lead to a multi-million dollar loss. 

However, what's most concerning to him is that the suspect had direct access to a major runway.

“If there’s something that’s concerning to me, it’s that this security vulnerability allowed someone seconds from the active runway,” Sanger said.

The airport had a similar incident back in 2010, when a pickup truck crashed through a fence and drove onto the tarmac.

Duebner told WFAA that since the 2010 incident, the city spent between $4-5 million on improving the airport’s security.

“We’ve spent several million dollars in improving our fence line, the airport owned-and-controlled gates and making them crash-proof,” Duebner said.

The gate from the overnight incident, however, is not crash-proof. Duebner said that’s because it’s a private hangar leased by TAC AIR, which is responsible for the gate.

WFAA reached out to TAC AIR for a statement on the incident but did not receive a response.

Duebner said TAC AIR’s gate meets TSA standards.

“There currently is no requirement for our tenants to install crash proof gates. We will probably be reviewing that,” Duebner said.

Sanger said the gate involved in the crash is strong but should be crash-proof. 

“This airport serves airlines, high profile politicians, so it is a concern. This is now a security vulnerability that will need to be fixed,” Sanger said.

On Saturday, the wrecked gate was chained and padlocked. Sanger told WFAA that the suspect could additionally end up facing federal charges.

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